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Animal Themes
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Horses



Horses
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.79

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    conversion, largely, harem, mind-juggling, miscarry, single-colored, reproduce, provides, historical, manes, offspring, stallion, effective, immediately, frequently, value


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Horses   

1     Horses are symbols of speed, strength, and stamina. As we examine the anatomy of horses, we can easily see how they can live up to this image. Horses have muscular bodies and powerful legs. They have one hoofed toe on each foot. Their heads are elongated. With enough distance between their muzzles and their eyes, horses can graze and look out for danger at the same time. At a moment's notice, horses spring into action and run as fast as 43 miles per hour. Although their diet of grasses provides little nutritional value, horses seem to have a secret energy valve that supplies them with strength. All these qualities of horses did not escape the notice of our ancestors, as horses have been domesticated for thousands of years as effective farm helpers and reliable means of transport. While the invention of machines largely relieved horses from these historical roles, they are now often kept for leisure and sports.
 
2     Horses have long manes and tails. Their hairy coats come in a variety of colors and patterns. Most horses have either single-colored coats or spotted ones. But, there are exceptions. Roaming across the African grassland are three horse species with stripes. Do you know what they are? That's right! Zebras! There are three zebra species -- the Grévy's zebra, the mountain zebra, and the common (or Burchell's) zebra. All of them have eye-catching black and white stripes.
 
3     Horses live in herds, with a male horse (or a stallion) guarding a harem of female horses (or mares) and their young (or foals; male foals are colts and female foals are fillies.) A stallion frequently challenges other stallions in an attempt to take over their harems. His aggressive behavior often leads pregnant mares from the acquired harem to miscarry, so he can mate and breed his own offspring immediately. When kept on farms, some stallions are castrated to make them more mild tempered and easy to control. Castrated stallions can no longer reproduce. They are called geldings.

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